Thursday, March 21, 2013

Family Trip 2013: Day 7

We went through a Border Patrol checkpoint on our way to the Kartchner Caverns State Park.  Can you believe it? We were close enough to Mexico that we went through a border checkpoint. I still haven't been in a foreign country, but we were close.  I saw a Mexican mountain in the distance. Someday, we will actually go over the border.

Speed limit signs slowed us down long before we could see what we were approaching. There were several officers and dogs, and they looked like they meant business. We rolled down our window, and they visually scanned our vehicle.  I think it was obvious we posed no threat -- a young couple with a baby in the back surrounded by toys, luggage, pillows, bags of snacks and fruit, and several large jugs of water. Yep. No threat. They waved us on.
As requested, we arrived at the Kartchner Caverns visitor center an hour early for our 9:40 tour, but they were able to bump us back to the first tour of the day at 9:00.  That was nice.  They warned it would be warm and humid inside the caverns and suggested we leave our jackets in the car.  We had to leave just about everything else in the car too -- cameras, bags, purses, etc.  I was able to bring our baby sling for Anna to ride in since, of course, strollers were not allowed.

Just as a side note, we went through the entire trip without ever using our stroller.  It just seemed wrong to expect Anna to be tied down in her carseat for hours on end just to take her out and plop and lock her into another seat.  Zachary and I carried her everywhere when we weren't in the car, and our sling was a great aid for longer walks.

Anna is holding her ticket in this photo.
We took cell phone pictures in the visitor center, but that was it before hiding that electronic device away. They have a very firm rule about photography in the caverns.  There are two tours available, one in the Big Room and one in the Rotunda and Throne Room but only the second allows children under seven, so I will let you guess which one we took.  Yes!  We went on the Throne Room Tour!  How's that for easy decision making?

Anna loved the first part of the tour which involved riding up a steep hill in an open vehicle, going through bank safe quality doors, entering the warm and humid cavern, and being misted from three sides.  The mist helps replace the water our dry skin and clothes steal from the air and washes off or entraps any lint, etc. that might be tempted to fall off in the delicate environment of the cavern.  They say the cavern is so humid that any foreign objects mold over very quickly and become unrecognizable, and that isn't good for the cave. They hose the pathways at the end of each day.

The tour we went on is completely wheelchair accessible and was a very easy walk.  Kartchner Caverns is 90% "alive." The formations are still growing. They are growing slowly, but water is still making its way through and creating the beautiful stalagmites, stalactites, soda straws, and other formations.  I love seeing the glossy smoothness of the moist rock.

Anna's natural nap time fell smack-dab in the middle of the tour, so she started to get a bit fussy.  Okay, very fussy. We tried just about everything to get her to calm down -- playing with her, funny faces, taking her out of the sling carrier, handing her to her daddy and then back to me, pointing at the lights in an attempt to fool her into smiling for a "camera..."  That last one worked wonders and she pasted a fake smile on her face for about the ten seconds it took to figure out that, no, her picture was not being taken.  Finally, in a last attempt to keep us on the tour, (since they will ask loud babies and their parents to leave) I nursed Anna discreetly while continuing to walk the tour.  She fell right asleep, and our fellow tourists sang her praises as we exited the cave at the end of the tour.  They told us what a good baby we have. With a sleeping baby in my arms, there was no way I was going to argue.

We said goodbye to Arizona and headed back toward Albuquerque and my grandparents' house.  We could have continued on for a couple more days, but we had seen everything on our list and were ready to get home.  We were stopped at another Border Patrol Checkpoint where the officer asked, "Everyone U.S. citizens here?" We said yes, and he waved us through.

We arrived at Grandma's about 7:00 where she had a delicious dinner prepared for us.  Anna let her Great Grandma Jan hold her. That made me (and my grandma) happy. I think another visit or two would make Grandma part of Anna's "inner circle."  We put our pictures on the TV for an old-fashioned slideshow presentation and enjoyed the city lights and good fellowship.  After our goodbyes, we headed to the hotel, but that is a story for another day!


Karen said...

It has been a lot of fun following your vacation trip. You are a very good writer and the pictures are very good. Such a delightful family.
Karen Y.

Elizabeth E Pruett said...

Thank you, Karen!

Robert Wayne Moore said...

This has been enjoyable! It's as close as your mother and I could come to being with you - without actually crowding into your car ourselves!!

Let's see... my nomination for photo of the day is difficult, but I'm going for "Anna holding her ticket." You look so pretty in that picture.